When in Rome, do as the Romans do

At this point, my Discover the World rotation has been in Rome for less than a week, but already we’ve collectively eaten about 40 different pasta dishes; mind you, there are only 32 students in the rotation.

The Pasta Chronicles started even before we landed at Roma Fiumicino Airport. For weeks in Paris, we had been on the borderline of starvation. This is not to say that St. John’s didn’t feed us, because when they did, it was like manna from heaven. Rather, our pocketbooks were experiencing a severe famine caused by the insane Parisian cost of living.

Only a handful of us were financially blessed to sit in a restaurant and order food. For the rest, McDonald’s and ramen became a way of life. I, for one, am the self-proclaimed Mademoiselle Microwave Chef Extraordinaire. Needless to say, we learned quickly how to make pasta in the microwave.

But good things come to those who wait. For 40 days and 40 nights we waited, and on the 41 day we were rewarded. Since the Rome campus had no cafeteria, St. John’s provided students with meal tickets every week that could be used all over the country. Yes, all over the great nation of Italia.

When asked how she felt about Rome, “I’ve died and gone to carb heaven,” Valerie Juarez, a sophomore journalism student, said.

From the basic spaghetti alla Carbonara to the more complex fettuccine con Pomodorini Pachino, there was a pasta dish for everyone.

In the unlikely event that we got sick of pasta, there was also a pizzeria on every corner. Toppings ranged from the familiar sausage to surprisingly delicious French fries. Our pizza experience was anything but standard. The pizza came with little to no tomato sauce, and was cut into rectangular portions and weighed for price. Pizza Hut could definitely take a few pointers from the Italians.

For those who preferred sweet over savory, gelaterias saved the day. Nutella, straciatella, pistachio, cinnamon, caramel, even wine, you name the flavor and I guarantee we already ate it.

If the pasta, pizza and gelato weren’t enough, our meal tickets could also be used in grocery stores. This worked out wonderfully because the campus had two full kitchens. The first day we got our meal tickets, we made a feast of jell of rice, bruschetta with tomato and shrimp and a spicy mediterranean salad.

With all the food to eat, we did very little exploring of the city. We had no regrets however, for we had five more weeks of expanding waistlines to go.